During the six years I spent researching my book I
amassed a collection of more than 220 photos. I would like to get
those unpublished photos on my site. The collection is no doubt
unique and would be impossible to repeat and must be of some historical
significance. They came from all parts of the country and I was
flattered when people entrusted them to me. Nearly all of the photos
are copies, with the exception of the photograph of Tommy Stokes
on page xxxix of my book.
The photos would generally arrive with an accompanying
letter usually there would be one photo, occasionally two or three,
any more I would consider a bonanza! Imagine my excitement when
I received a letter from Philip Mulholland which contained 30!!
These appear in the gallery between pages xx and xxv Philip seemed
to think they were taken by Moss Walters after the war, for attachment
to ID cards. He couldn't remember how he came by them. What a fantastic
collection of heroes, when I look at them I like to think that I
can see the relief that the war is over in their smiling faces,
when compared to the grim faces of those taken during the fighting
years. One of those photos is of L/Bdr Winkle, I believe my book
has been purchased by his Grandfather, I would love to hear from
him if he reads this. Also the unknown Bdr on page xxii is Snowy
The group or troop photos were of particular interest.
Unfortunately with the exception of B Troop none of them were named
and it took me many hours to get what I could named. I spent hours
trying to cross-reference the photos in the hope of making an ID.
After 6 years I was able to identify some of the men
by the way they wore their Tam, as you will see many had their own
particular style. Some of the photos were printed from negatives
nearly 60 years old! And two printed perfectly from Glass plates
Of course with every batch of photos I always hoped
that there would be one with my father on it. I had two of my own
which are in the photo gallery. The photo with Frank Foster has
been repaired - the original was badly creased, This would have
been taken late 1943/44. They were good pals and were both appointed
acting unpaid Lance Bombadier (A/U/L/Bdr) on the same day. Dad never
relished the prospect of responsibility. He told me he went AWOL
for 24 hrs and was demoted back to Gnr. He could have easily reverted
back at his own request, though Frankie went on to make a fine Sgt
with D Troop. Interestingly his outline record of service simply
records "reverted to the rank of gunner". Was this the
MOD being compassionate and sparing me the fact that he was demoted??
In the portrait photograph just about visible on his
upper sleeve is the triangular badge of Northern Command, this would
have been taken soon after the Battalion converted to Royal Artillery
during 1942. He also has the "Shropshire" shoulder title
worn, prior to receiving the Royal Artillery title issued around
August/ September 1942. His lanyard indicates that he would have
completed his Artillery training.
By far the gem in my collection is of Dad and Albert
Smith with the Gun. I almost made contact with Albert in December
1997, tragically, in January 1998 he had a stroke from which he
never recovered. Albert, a bachelor lived with his two sisters in
St Mary's Bay Kent. After a respectful time had elapsed I contacted
his sisters and sent them a very nice photo of Albert from my collection.
They were very touched and invited me down to look through Albert's
memorabilia. I spent a lovely day there, and was allowed to look
through Albert's photo collection. Unfortunately they related mainly
to his post war service in the territorials, but as I went through
them I came across a very tiny photo only about 2" square,
there was something very familiar about the way the soldier on the
right was standing. Both my brothers and I have inherited that stance.
I turned the photo over and what was written on the reverse can
be seen in the photo gallery.
I was thrilled, and very moved, a photo of my Father
at war!! The Gun is ready for action with the sights up and the
gun limber parked close by. Their Battery - 178 Bty was the last
to fire in anger at the close of the war. I had scanned dozens of
photographs for a sight of my Dad, and to find one of him in action
was just brilliant.
What a find !!